After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute, Marshall worked his way up the Army chain of command. During World War I, he codified and implemented the Army’s infantry training program and served as aide-de-camp for John “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948) during and after the war.
Pershing had begun his long and celebrated military career in the cavalry during the 1880s. He taught at West Point and fought in the Spanish- and Philippine-American wars. At the start of World War I, Pershing was promoted to the rank of general and chosen commander of the American Expeditionary Force. For his wartime service, Woodrow Wilson promoted him to the newly created rank of General of the Armies of the United States in 1919 and, in 1921, after rebuffing suggestions that he run for the presidency, Pershing accepted the post of Chief of Staff of the United States Army, his final military position which he held for three years and is the subject of our letter. During his tenure, he established the Reserve Officers Association at the behest of World War I combat veterans. The recipient of our letter, a language teacher in New York City, was evidently among them.
Marshall went on to enjoy a similarly celebrated military career. As brigadier general, he was appointed FDR’s Army Chief of Staff on September 1, 1939, the day the Second World War began. Marshall did much to expand and modernize the army and after the U.S. entry into the conflict he coordinated the military strategy of the Allies for which he was dubbed the “organizer of victory” by Winston Churchill. In 1944, he became the second officer, after Douglas McArthur, to receive the rank of five-star general. As Truman’s secretary of state, he introduced the U.S. plan to help Europe recover from the war, known as the Marshall Plan, which won him the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1950 he joined Truman’s cabinet as secretary of defense during the Korean War.
Written on a folded sheet and in very good condition. Very rare from this early period.